Thu, December 08, 2022

Amazon removes COVID paid leave for US workers

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Amazon.com Inc. announced that it would end its paid time-off (PTO) policy for front-line employees who test positive for COVID-19 starting on May 2.

The giant retailer cited that US-based workers with coronavirus will get up to five days of excused but unpaid leave. This statement came from a notice sent on Saturday. The company also mentioned that its staff could still use their sick time off if necessary.

This change follows the wider availability of vaccines and revised guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, the e-commerce firm noted that Americans will no longer have time off excused since rapid tests are now accessible.

Amazon previously offered up to two weeks of paid time off for employees placed into quarantine. Eventually, the business reduced settled leave time to one week, or up to 40 hours in January.

In addition, the tech giant will now stop sending site-wide notifications of positive cases in its facilities unless required by law. As part of the pullback, it will also end incentivizing vaccination efforts.

Accordingly, these changes come amid a stream of challenges for Amazon after a recent effort to unionize some warehouses.

Last month, its staff in New York City set the first election to form a union. Subsequently, the National Labor Relations Board will finalize ballots today.

Thus, its latest decision will likely spark a backlash from pro-union employees. In recent years, they have argued for better working conditions and improved benefits at warehouses.

Amazon is the second-largest American private employer behind Walmart, operating with hundreds of thousands of warehouse and logistics staff.

Last January, Walmart halved paid leave for COVID-positive workers, leaving them one week instead of two. It is among the initial leading retailers to lower paid leave.

Amazon to overturn NY union vote

Amazon’s objections to a union election at its NY warehouse could justify a hearing that would potentially overturn the result.

The online retailer has accused the National Labor Relations Board’s Brooklyn office of supporting the union drive. In addition, it cited that the government agency intimidated workers into voting in their favor. Meanwhile, the union dismissed these claims.

Nevertheless, NLRB Director Cornele Overstreet mentioned that the evidence behind Amazon’s allegations could be grounds for overturning the voting. He explained the parties could present testimony starting May 23, where the process could take weeks.

This election marked the first time workers at the e-commerce giant decided to unionize in the company’s 28-year history. It posts a victory for organized labor that sought more employee protections at the online retailer titan.

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